Kids 12 to 15 years old who felt excluded in the coronavirus vaccination drive may now join the club whose members have had needles stuck in their arms during the pandemic.
Some New Mexico sites have begun or soon will start to administer to kids the Pfizer vaccine, approved for children last week by two federal health agencies. Some hospitals, schools and other groups are putting on vaccination clinics, which are typically under the guidance of the state Department of Health.
The Department of Health reported Monday that 21,080 children 12 through 15 years old have registered and 4,675 have received their initial dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The Health Department began vaccinating children in that age group Thursday. There are 111,516 in that group in New Mexico.
“We are vaccinating ages 12-15 the same way we are ages 16 and up: as equitably and as expediently as possible,” department spokesman David Morgan wrote in an email.
Dale Lyons said he is eager to see his two children become fully vaccinated. His daughter, Nina, an eighth grader at Santa Fe Preparatory School, received her first dose Saturday at a CVS Pharmacy.
“Yep, she was her same chipper self the rest of the afternoon,” Lyons said.
His son, ninth grader Henry, competed Saturday in a swim meet and expects to get his first shot next week at a clinic at Santa Fe Prep.
“So the sooner they get their vaccinations, the sooner that life can get back to normal,” the father said.
He said he hoped there would be few parents who count on others to get vaccinated while they don’t have their own children vaccinated.
“I think everybody should be responsible and get their family vaccinated,” he said. Lyons and his wife, Pamela Emsden, are fully vaccinated.
Jon Wade, chief executive at Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center, said his 14-year-old son, Jack, will use his hospital’s lower-level vaccination clinic, offered from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, to get his first shot. The hospital asks people to register at vaccineNM.org and use special event code PKIDS21.
That clinic is for children 12 to 17 years old, but parents and guardians who accompany them also may get vaccinated.
Wade said he is happy his son will have greater protection against the disease and will be able to be more socially active because of it.
“It’s difficult for that age group,” he said. “I’m super-excited that he’s getting to be around other kids his age” as restrictions have loosened. His son attends St. Michael’s High School.
Hope Wade, chief operating officer at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and no relation to Jon Wade, said more than 200 students have expressed interest in her medical center’s clinic on May 24 at Santa Fe Prep.
The Santa Fe Prep clinic is open to Prep students, students starting there in 2021-22, and those in the school’s Breakthrough Santa Fe program.
Hope Wade said St. Michael’s also called Christus and expressed interest in having a clinic there. She said the school will survey its student body to see how many are interested before a clinic is scheduled.
Her system also will offer the vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at its specialty clinic, 433 St. Michael’s Drive. Wade said the hospital has a scheduling line at 505-913-3080. The vaccine is the same as that given to adults.
The federal Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorization for the vaccine’s use for children 12 through 15 a week ago and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its approval Wednesday.
The Health Department will oversee vaccination clinics at Desert Sage Academy, 351 W. Zia Road, from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
A clinic also will take place in conjunction with the Chainbreaker Collective from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Southside Branch Library, 6599 Jaguar Drive.
Nick Boukas of the Health Department said registration for those clinics can be done at vaccineNM.org, but onsite registration also is allowed.
Claudia Trueblood of Las Cruces had her 14-year-old son, Lucas, signed up and ready to go. The first shot became available to him late last week.
“We asked him if he was ready and he said yes. We told him there was an opening that same afternoon and he responded great,” Trueblood wrote in an email message.
Asked if Lucas dislikes shots, his mother said he does. But he dislikes being extremely ill, she said, a lot more.